People love decorating their homes with plants, both indoors and out. Studies show that greenery boosts our mood, reduces stress levels, and helps clean toxins from the air. But if you share your home with pets, it’s important to know which plants are toxic to them — the list is longer than some pet owners realize. Many popular plant varieties that we grow in our homes and gardens can lead to severe health complications for our furry family members.
Although this plant is generally considered non-toxic to pets, it’s best to avoid the spider plant if you share your space with a cat. The leaves contain unknown toxins that can cause hallucinations in felines. These toxins can lead to a long list of non-fatal but concerning stomach issues if your cat munches on them. If you like the wispy leaves of the spider plant, opt for the low-maintenance bottle palm — AKA ponytail palm — instead. This one is certified pet-friendly.
Plants like Easter lilies and trumpet lilies belong to the “true lily” and “daylily” families and are especially dangerous for cats, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Even a few pollen grains is enough to cause kidney failure in your feline, which means they're a no-go regardless of where you put them. Lily-of-the-valley, gloriosa, and flame lilies are not “true lilies,” but are no less toxic for both dogs and cats. Alternatively, opt for pet-safe roses, with hundreds of varieties that thrive inside and outdoors.
Stomach irritation, anorexia, and convulsions are signs of cyclamen poisoning. These beautiful perennial plants have deep-green leaves, brightly colored blooms, and a sweet scent, but there's a nefarious side to their captivating beauty: they're toxic to both pets and their people. The low-light Phalaenopsis orchid is a better option for households with pets, even if you’ve never tried growing orchids before.
The calcium oxalate crystals present in this plant lead to pain, burning, inflammation of the tongue and throat, and suffocation if your pet eats any part of it. The poisonous properties of Dieffenbachia are transmitted in the juice of the the stems, leaves, and sometimes the roots. It’s not only toxic to dogs and cats, but also rabbits and birds. A safer choice for pet owners is the tropical Aspidistra elatior, more commonly known as the iron plant.
They’re tall, beautiful, and a staple for English gardens, but all parts of the foxglove are toxic to dogs, causing cardiac failure and worse if consumed. Ingesting even a smidgen of foxglove can lead to life-threatening stomach issues and heart failure in cats. Consider planting snapdragons instead, though you might have to pass on those too, if your pet shows a lot of interest, as the leaves and bark are poisonous in large amounts.
Plant lovers grow the ornamental eucalyptus for more than just their beauty. This herb has a menthol-like fragrance and many people use the essential oil to treat the common cold symptoms. Cats are prone to eucalyptus poisoning, not only from ingesting the plant, but also from inhaling the essential oils that many owners use in diffusers in the home. If a dog consumes large amounts of eucalyptus, it can cause seizures, lethargy, weakness, and major stomach issues. Try an easy-to-care-for succulent like Haworthia instead.
The moment your pet starts to snack on a philodendron leaf, they’ll likely feel pain. Their tongue and pharynx may swell, and within hours, they could experience renal failure. Cats may have convulsions and nervous spasms, but some have also fallen prey to encephalitis after ingestion. Why not go with another classic that is less likely to lead to a costly trip to the veterinarian? The Boston fern is non-toxic to pets and humans alike.
This plant’s bulbs contain oxalic acid and are super-poisonous. Even handling them can cause skin irritation. Dogs who dig up and ingest the bulbs experience severe poisoning symptoms which can affect heart rates and respiration. Cats can experience intense vomiting, depression, and tremors after ingesting hyacinth plants. Look for a safer alternative such as celosia, an edible, non-toxic plant with bright, feathery flowers.
The fast-growing schefflera, or umbrella plant, has been a favorite house and garden plant for decades. However, this plant’s toxins are in its sap, making all parts of it toxic for pets. Dogs and cats who’ve ingested the plant experience difficulty swallowing along with bouts of vomiting. The toxins cause burning of the mouth, tongue, and lips. Grape ivy is a versatile and safe alternative for homes with pets.
You can easily find this pretty flowering succulent at grocers and nurseries, but it may be better to pass it by if you have pets at home. There are more than 200 species of kalanchoe, many of which are ornamentals or houseplants. Household pets — dogs, cats, and birds — are highly susceptible to its toxic compounds, which can cause heart and breathing issues and paralysis. The Christmas cactus is a beautiful and non-toxic option.
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